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AS THE CHETCO DROPS SO DOES BUSINESS AT RIVERSIDE MARKET

Teresa Strasheim helps customers at the Riverside Market, which has seen a drop in business as the level of the Chetco River also drops. (The Pilot/Arwyn Rice).
Teresa Strasheim helps customers at the Riverside Market, which has seen a drop in business as the level of the Chetco River also drops. (The Pilot/Arwyn Rice).

By Arwyn Rice

Pilot staff writer

Things aren't going as swimmingly for a Chetco River-based business as the owners would like.

Riverside Market, owned by Teresa Strasheim and her husband Tom, has been suffering from some of the same economic stresses as much of the rest of Oregon, and the low river isn't helping any.

"The river is lower, kayaking is impossible in some places," said Strasheim.

Riverside Market rents kayaks to those who want to float down the river and provides shuttle service. The most common run was from Redwood Bar down to the market, but low water leaves only a two mile run from Low Water Bridge to Redwood Bar.

Much of the remainder of Chetco River is so low she won't put her kayaks in the water for fear of damage to the hulls.

Strasheim blames fuel prices and the overall economy for the bulk of the business' financial woes. What few campers come up the river aren't stopping at her store or are buying less.

Tube rentals are also affected by the low water, but have never been a huge part of her business. Tubing is only good until noon, when the wind comes up and pushes tubers back upstream, Strasheim said.

"Campers are planning ahead more and making fewer impulse buys," she said. "We're seeing more locals, more familiar faces."

The limited salmon season is also hurting the business; revenue is down 25 to 50 percent. but doesn't have the same impact as the lack of campers.

"The fishermen are still coming," Strasheim said. "They stay on the river to fish and drink beer and float.

Strasheim and her husband have changed a few things at Riverside Market since they purchased the store from Josh and Pat Riddle two and a half years ago.

Problems with teenagers in their parking lot late at night forced the couple to remove a pay phone and install security cameras.

Strasheim believes that the teenagers she chased off have been returning occasionally to throw rocks at her store's sign, trying to break it.

Despite the problems with teenagers and economic downturn, this is the place Strasheim wants to be. Strasheim grew up on the Chetco River and moved away as a young adult. She only recently returned and is enjoying reconnecting with old friends.

The neighborhood of "locals" is a good mix of retirees, families and others, she said.

The store has a history she loves. Riverside Market started as a house and was converted into a bar. The bar later added a small store and eventually converted the bar back into a house.

Strasheim remembers when there was a stream with fish behind the store. The stream is now a culvert and the fish are long gone.

"I love it, it's like family," Strasheim said." It's a wonderful business, what you'd expect a mom and pop store to be. I work here seven days a week. I can't imagine doing anything else."

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